They Said He Was A Lousy Speaker

His style could be too plain for the taste of his time, but much that Lincoln said speaks powerfully to us

No American writer's words are more admired than those of Abraham Lincoln. By the time of his assassination in 1865, he had written passages by which everything that followed would be measured. But such an ability was the last thing the American public expected from the obscure prairie lawyer who took office just four years earlier. "We have a President without brains," wrote the country's leading historian, George Bancroft. Bancroft was, admittedly, a Democrat, but many self-respecting Republicans were also concerned about the implications of having an untried, self-educated "rail splitter" as a leader in time of grave national crisis. Charles...

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